The Shocking Things People Need To Stop Saying To Mixed Race Parents

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
vgajic / iStock

When I found out that I was pregnant I knew that I was in for an adventure. Not only because I was about to become a parent for the first time, but because I was having a child who was going to be half-white. I knew that no matter how progressive we like to think we are as a society, it is still surprising to people to see a child that is mixed race.

According to several sources, the amount of people who identify as mixed race has been steadily on the rise since the 1970s.

I always knew that there was a chance I would have a kid who was half-white. That didn’t really bother me, but I had no idea about the kind of crazy comments I was going to encounter. People seem to lose all sense of decency when a child is involved. Some of the comments I’ve heard in general since becoming a parent are shocking, but the stuff people have said in reference to my kid are almost laughable.

So, a bit of disclosure, my son is super white. Like if you didn’t see us together, you wouldn’t know that he was black at all. He has gotten a little darker as he’s grown, but his features still favor his white side. I’m OK with the fact that he doesn’t look exactly how we were expecting him to, mainly because it’s made for some interesting experiences.

Once, when he was a newborn, my white friend and I took him out for the afternoon. Every time someone asked any questions about him, they always addressed her, never me. She just shrugged and told them I was the mom. They looked confused. Another time at McDonald’s, the cashier peered inside the carrier and smiled.

“Is he yours?” I nodded

“But he’s so white!” I smiled

“He looks like his dad,” I replied.

That has become my go-to line. I have heard quite a few questions and comments (some are borderline offensive), but more often than not, I get some variation of “Are you his mom?”

Sometimes I want to tell them that I’m his babysitter just to change things up a bit. I knew that I wasn’t the only mom encountering this, so I reached out to some other moms of mixed race kids to see what they’ve heard. Here is what 10 moms of mixed race children had to say:

1. Amy, mom to kids ages 13 and 16: “Oh, I always thought they looked kind of exotic.”

2. Laurel, mom to two boys ages 7 and 4, finds herself explaining recessive genes when people ask, “Where did they get blond hair?!” Her husband is half-Japanese and half-Irish, but both he and Laurel have have dark hair and eyes.

3. Eva, mom to a daughter age 4: “Mixed kids are always so beautiful/attractive.”

4. Jonita, mom to kids ages 19, 17, 15, 12, 2 years, and 4 months, gets comments from her side of the family, like “They are so pale!” and “They will get darker, right?” Meanwhile, from her husband’s side, she hears, “I wish I could could have that tan all year round.” Jonita is black and her husband white. The hue their babies take on is a topic of many family dinners, and it gets get tiring. With their newest one, they’ve actually heard, “I wonder what color it’s gonna be,” so many times she’s wanted to scream.

5. Shannon, mom to kids ages 3 ½ years and 7 months, has heard all sorts of comments implying that mixed race children and interracial marriages are a testament to our country’s bright future and how one day we’ll all just be brown and race won’t really matter. Yes, she knows these people mean well, but just no.

6. Jennifer, mom to a son age 2 ½: “Did he just call you Mom?!” Yes, seriously.

7. Tia, mom to kids ages 2 ½ years and 10 months: “Who do they like better black [insert family member] or white [family member]?”

8. Surraine, mom to twin boys age 3: “They have such good hair!”

9. Jill, mom to a son age 5: “So nice of you to adopt a child!”

10. Isabel, mom to a son age 6: “He’s not too dark…”

Look, we understand that our families don’t fit societal conventions. But there are ways to tactfully learn more about us. We’re not saying that you can’t be curious. You may not look like your child, but I would never comment on it. Our children are not exotic or more beautiful because their parents are different races. They’re just like every other kid. And we’re just like every other parent.